Scott Dixon took his first IZOD Indycar Series win of 2011 with a commanding performance at Mid-Ohio, while his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti extended his championship lead over Will Power by finishing second.
Starting from pole, Dixon assumed control of the race from the outset, with his pace suggesting only bad luck with caution periods could upset his hopes of victory. That fear was almost realized on lap 56, when a full-course yellow handed Franchitti the lead, the Scot pitting one lap later than Dixon and crucially emerging ahead of him at the blend line as he rejoined. Dixon passed Franchitti soon afterward, but had to hand the position back due to the full caution in operation.
With passing proving difficult, Dixon attacked the restart, passing Franchitti -- who didn't offer too much resistance -- at the first corner, before easing away to a 7.6sec victory.
"We worked so hard to get pole, so to come back today for the win was fantastic," Dixon said. "(At the restart) I wanted to get back to the front and Dario didn't fight too hard, and I respect him a lot for that."
Franchitti finished second but made significant gains over title rival Power after the Australian was caught out by another full-course yellow, caused as Danica Patrick helped Graham Rahal into a spin.
Power had opted to stay out one lap longer than Franchitti, but the tactic backfired when the safety car emerged - the Australian dropping to the back of the field when he was finally able to come in. He made his way through to 14th at the finish, but now falls 62 points behind Franchitti in the championship.
Power's demotion promoted Ryan Hunter-Reay into third, with the Andretti man applying pressure to Franchitti but finding it impossible to pass in the final 15 laps.
Takuma Sato wound up fourth despite being involved in a three-way incident on the race's first of two restarts, while Tony Kanaan bounced back from his qualifying woes by finishing fifth.
Alex Tagliani, on probation this weekend, was cleared from an opening-lap incident with Newman/Haas' James Hinchcliffe and went on to finish sixth. The incident dropped Hinchcliffe to the back of the field, but a perfectly timed first caution played into his hands as he had pitted one lap earlier, and he actually led from lap 22. After the second round of stops he appeared in contention for a podium, only to spin at Turn 2 and once again drop to the back. He eventually finished 20th.
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Results - 85 laps:
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1h48m46.9509s
2. Dario Franchitti Ganassi + 7.6508s
3. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti + 9.0784s
4. Takuma Sato KV + 12.3062s
5. Tony Kanaan KV + 19.9748s
6. Alex Tagliani Sam Schmidt + 20.6267s
7. Marco Andretti Andretti + 20.9094s
8. Oriol Servia Newman/Haas + 23.0252s
9. Sebastien Bourdais Dale Coyne + 23.6411s
10. Vitor Meira Foyt + 26.2582s
11. Charlie Kimball Ganassi + 27.4550s
12. Simona de Silvestro HVM + 29.0438s
13. Simon Pagenaud Dreyer & Reinbold + 29.7880s
14. Will Power Penske + 42.5675s
15. EJ Viso KV + 45.3255s
16. Ryan Briscoe Penske + 45.7141s
17. Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold + 47.0943s
18. Martin Plowman Sam Schmidt + 48.3700s
19. Helio Castroneves Penske + 48.8679s
20. James Hinchcliffe Newman/Haas + 49.4093s
21. Danica Patrick Andretti + 59.9851s
22. Ed Carpenter Sarah Fisher + 1m09.2913s
23. James Jakes Dale Coyne + 1m09.5303s
24. Graham Rahal Ganassi + 2 laps
25. JR Hildebrand Panther + 4 laps
Mike Conway Andretti 63 laps
Sebastian Saavedra Conquest 20 laps